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"Where I did experience bias was in court, with male judges and some of the lawyers. I broke that bias by doing my homework, and being the smartest person in the room when it came to the facts and the law in my cases, while also being calm and professional. And trustworthy."
In observance of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, LexisNexis is spotlighting law book authors and editors who have set the bar for excellence and leadership among women in legal professions.
With more than 35 years of trial experience in state and federal courts, Penny Mason has handled matters involving complex litigation, medical-malpractice defense, and employment law.
She is general editor of the LexisNexis Practice Guide: Connecticut Civil Pretrial Practice - the “go-to" resource for instant analysis, guidance, and forms covering pretrial civil procedure.
Mason has defended clients against age, sex, and race discrimination claims, breach of employment contracts, and related torts and has provided day-to-day advice on employment issues for both small and large businesses and institutions. She has also represented medical and legal professionals in administrative proceedings before licensing boards.
Mason is an independent investigator of sexual-misconduct and Title IX claims at academic institutions and other organizations and investigates and reports on organizational cultures and structures with the goal of preventing discrimination and other forms of misconduct. In addition to her own practice, she serves as a member of the firm's Diversity Partner Committee.
International Women’s Day 2022
LexisNexis: The theme of International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. As a female leader, what has been the most significant biases you’ve faced in your career? How did you break the bias?
Mason: Early on in my adult life, as I was finishing college, I was active with several environmental groups, and felt bias on the basis of sex, but it could have also been my youth. I decided I needed the credibility that a law degree could provide. There was no bias that I experienced at Yale Law School, even though there were not many women in my class. When I got into practice, my New England “white shoe” firm was very supportive, and I rose to hiring partner then chair of the litigation department. Where I did experience bias was in court, with male judges and some of the lawyers. I broke that bias by doing my homework, and being the smartest person in the room when it came to the facts and the law in my cases, while also being calm and professional. And trustworthy.
LexisNexis: In what ways are you working to promote gender equality in your professional life?
Mason: Barclay Damon has a robust diversity, equity and inclusion initiative and an active women’s forum. In the DEI arena, I am the Diversity Partner, leading the Diversity Leadership Team for Boston, New Haven and New York City offices (Major Markets). I participate in women’s forum meetings and retreats. I am proud that our firm of about 300 lawyers, is led by a woman as Managing Partner, and the Director of our Major Markets offices is a woman whom I mentored.
LexisNexis: What, or who, influenced you to start writing? To become an author with LexisNexis?
Mason: As a trial lawyer, I wrote pleadings, memoranda and briefs for 35 years. As a member of the American Law Institute (ALI), I have commented on drafts of three Restatements or Projects. I became a General Editor for LexisNexis of the first Connecticut Civil Pretrial Practice in 2016 at the request of James Hardin, and at his request have edited annual updates since. I enjoy adding practice tips and warnings based on my experience with the courts and rules.
LexisNexis: Are there any advantages you feel like you have had as woman in your chosen career field?
Mason: Advantages I have had are partly due to growing up with supportive parents and particularly with an older brother and his friends. I was never intimidated by all-male situations. Then when I added competence along with a civil and friendly manner, including in adversary situations, being a woman has sometimes taken opponents off guard, which is an advantage.
LexisNexis: What advice would you give to other women in legal professions or women just beginning their careers?
Mason: Work very hard, be available to take on new tasks, find one or more mentors, learn every detail about whatever your task is, but above all be civil, kind, friendly and professional. Smile.
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